“This is My Name Forever…from generation to generation.”
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.'"
Labels and names matter. One is reminded of the questions in one’s baptism in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. We ask the parents an odd question, "What is this child’s name?” (More later on that one.) One of our children was named after a famous Presbyterian Pastor because of our respect then, as now, for that Statesman; that name continues to resonate here with this family. Names matter.
(Although don't ask too much about a family up the road who--this is true--gave an official name to their son, "Bubba," yes that was put on the birth certificate...eastern NC, but it makes our larger point.)
God’s name is remembered in the OT. It is God making Himself known to Israel in words and deeds (Ps. 8.1; 113.1-3; 145. 1-2; 148. 5, 13). It is foundational to the prohibition to not take the “name” of the LORD in vain (Ex. 20). We learn that in our catechism (WSC). As such, the “name” of the LORD is "on, by and with" His Canonical Word, redemptive acts and the entirety of providence in history. As such, the LORD’s name is alone invoked in prayers (contra: Greeks and Romanists—said to include Tractoes). As such, our Book of Common Prayer invokes the Triune God alone (notwithstanding the Trojan horses from the synagogue of John Newman). As such, when this command is honored in the redemptive life of covenant people, they avoid necromancy, become theologically and biblical literate, become interested in science, and become interested in history. It isn't a mistake that Reformed Churchmen have tended toward literacy and education, but we digress.
The context for Ex. 3 is the burning bush, or, the bush that burned but was not consumed. Moses hears the Vox Dei, the Voice of God. God identifies Himself with the forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen.17.1-19). God is the God of the covenant. “I AM WHO I AM.” This makes Jesus’ “I AM” claims later to be so stunning. God says to Moses, I am “the God of your fathers.” God’s name denotes and connotes all the attributes of God: eternal, self-sustaining, self-determining, free, sovereign and more. See the Westminster Confession of Faith for a mature "confession" and "creed"... for those still in the Episcopal “cradle” of infancy. Are you a "cradle" Episcopalian? If so, grow up (get out of the cradle) and become a "Creedal and Confessional Episcopalian," assuming one may wish to retain a competent bishop or two (an assumption worth reviewing...bishops as "ancient and desireable" or "ancient and quite often undesireable?").
The bush was not consumed because God is inexhaustible and eternal, ever-living (a term our Anglican forebears knew and liked, "Ever-living"), ever-powerful and ever the King.
Later, Moses would ask to see God’s face and glory. Here’s the account in Exodus 34:
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
This focuses on God’s moral qualities and relations with sinners, including Israel (cf. Neh. 9.17; Ps. 86.15; Joel 2.13).
Dare we add that those who take these things seriously are NOT fast-talkers in theological engagements. They proceed very slowly (like Thomas Cranmer), worship carefully (unlike necromancers in Rome and unlike Costalists), and take brave stands for the OT, NT, systematics, and the heroes of the holy, catholic (not Roman but Reformed), and apostolic church (founded upon apostolic and canonical doctrine).
Even in the NT, the name of Jesus is significant. Matthew 1.21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The Greek is little more precise and I don’t know why this is not better translated; the more precise translation is, “…because He Himself will save…” The reflexive pronoun gives emphasis. Jesus and Jesus alone will save; in accordance with Paul [throughout], we do not accomplish our salvation by any contribution in any measure. The name of Jesus points to His revelatory words and deeds, expressing God’s mind, character and purposes (John 14.9-11, inter alia).
God’s name is to be “hallowed” and esteemed, revered, studied, investigated, praised and transmitted (to the next generation by speech, reading, catechesis, writing and good living). This we pray every Sunday during Holy Communion, "Hallowed by Thy name."